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The Very First Thing You Need in Your Business

A graphic of the post title (The Very First Thing You Need in Your Business - Writing Your "Why" Statement) written in orange letters with a photo of Anastasia wearing a pink knit sweater and looking off to the side.

Let's say you booked a coaching call with me. You open up Zoom and click into your meeting link with me. You may wait just a second for me to “let you in” to the room because the doves are super noisy or the dog decided RIGHT NOW is the best time to ask to go outside. But shortly after that, the camera alights!

“Hi there! How are ya? Tell me what's on your mind," I'll say.


You tell me that you're ready for something a little different in your business. You're ready for a change. Something that allows you to take that next step into the best iteration of yourself that you can be. 


And then I'll say, “Tell me your ‘why’.”


This, my loves, is the single most important thing that you can have in place for both your business AND yourself. Your “why” is your guiding star when things feel out of alignment. 


“I do this because I love it and I could use the extra income”, you tell me. 


This is a good start. You do need to know that as well, but that's a lot easier to figure out. You have a business because you want income, flexibility, a creative outlet, etc. 

The real question is - why do you do what you do for other people? What is it that you want to ADD to the world? What is it that you want to FIX in the world? 


It's not enough to simply “have” a business. Customers expect more from the brands they follow. They want to know your values and the purpose that drives you to do this work. Really, they want to both connect with you on an emotional level AND get something of value in return. 


There's a TED talk that I always and forever recommend that every single business owner watch before they try to understand their “why”. It was given by Simon Sinek many years ago but is unendingly relevant and impactful. It's about 18 minutes long, and I watch it roughly every 6 months to get my head back into the right mindset.

Simon has also written a couple of books on the subject. One is Start With Why and the other is Find Your Why (I find the latter to be more actionable but the former is also very good).


The big phrase that he uses is:

People don't buy what you do. They buy WHY you do it.

Marketing is about connecting emotionally with our customers. 


One exercise that I've tweaked a bit from the Find Your Why book (and what I would use with you on our call) is to take three to five of your core values as a person and think back to what experience (or experiences) in your past have caused those values to be so important to you.


Usually, the values we have are a reflection of what we want for others, as well as ourselves. 


The other amazing thing about having a “why” is that it can grow and change with us, no matter what kind of work we're doing. 

For instance, my “why" is that I believe that our world will be a better place once we're able to get more money into the hands of women and other marginalized individuals.


In this industry, that “why" manifests in the work that I do helping small business owners like you improve your marketing and increase sales. But even if I wasn't doing this work, that “why” could carry me into other industries or types of work that would also support my belief.

In the Fiber Business Collective, we touch on our “why”s often, as well as many of the other foundational elements of our businesses and our marketing. We've even gotten the creation of the “why” statement in a template, accessible for all of our members.


So what about you? Do you know your “why”? Do you have a “why” statement that you reflect on at least every 6 months?

Most of us, as business owners, don't draft “why” statements because we don't usually have a “need” to put a statement like that anywhere that's really visible to our customers. 

I want you to write one anyway.

Having a “why” statement for YOU and your team (if applicable) to reflect on every 6 months or so is the North Star your business needs to ensure that your decisions remain aligned with your values.

If you're struggling with drafting your own statement, don't worry, you're not alone. 

Jen Parroccini, an Assistant Coach in the FBC, shared a useful piece of advice in our group (she's so good at re-framing questions!) for members who have been having a hard time writing theirs:


“For anyone stuck - I’ve had a few ‘why’ conversations recently. 


And you can almost always get closer to the tender nugget at the middle of that bullseye by saying “and why does THAT matter?” to each thing you come up with. At the bottom of the well, there’s usually a closely held personal value, or an issue that you care about. 


You can usually see a better world under all these layers, and describing that better world is going to illuminate your why.


So, like, if your ‘why’ is “I care about making pretty things”, is that 'why' going to be compelling to your customer? Do they care about you making pretty things? Probably not. So we have to go down a layer. 


Maybe it’s something like, “even on a shoestring budget, we all deserve beauty in our lives” - now we’re talking about something that’s compelling - and we can begin to see the world we want to create. It’s all about economic justice and anti-snobbery."

Let's take a look at how this works in practice.


Amanda Quade of Geektastic Fibers drafted a beautiful statement that was then narrowed down to the most clear and compelling line.


Amanda's “why” statement BEFORE:

“For me, the fiber arts are synonymous with friendship, inclusivity, and connection. There is room for all ages, races, ethnicities, gender identities, and even sexualities. One way that I have always connected with the people around me is through pop culture and the fandoms within. Geektastic Fibers allows me to combine that sense of community I get from the fiber arts with my love of all thing’s fandom. I want to encourage fiber artists to unapologetically embrace their inner nerd and never feel self-conscious for 'geeking out' over finding a colorway based on their favorite book, anime, movie, comic book, Broadway play, or TV show."

Amanda's “why” statement AFTER (seriously, I love it):

“I want to encourage fiber artists to unapologetically embrace their inner nerd and never feel self-conscious for 'geeking out'."


Strong “why” statements should lean into the values that are shared by both ourselves and our audience. Anne Merrow of Farm & Fiber Knits (Long Thread Media) does a really good job of speaking to those values in her "why":

“At Farm & Fiber Knits, we believe that focusing our attention and our dollars on grassroots fiber businesses and artisans brings knitters the meaning and connection that we crave. We want to help you make the world around us more sustainable and friendly through your knitting choices.”

You can even break up the differences between your “why” and your “how” to clarify how they are connected, like Nicole Larkin-York of Common Thread does:

“Why: I’m hellbent on empowering nerdy and adventurous knitters to embody their favorite heroes and tales in their everyday life. 

How: I do this through designing fantasy, art, and mythology inspired patterns, by hosting a Discord community for fellow nerdy fiber artists, and by sharing my design journey on my podcast."

P.S. If you want to see an example of how Nicole wove her “why” into beautiful and engaging customer-facing copy, I implore you to go check out this Instagram post she wrote.

I'm hoping, after these examples, you'll be able to build out your own statement of purpose that resonates deeply with your customers. Once you have that statement in hand, it will become much easier to find ways to express your beliefs and purpose using copy and similar wording that connect directly to your customer.


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